Interviewing and Preparation Lesson for JMO Military to Business Transition

If you are Junior Military Officer (JMO) and about to make your transition to business, whether you use a JMO headhunter or set up interviews on your own, most recruiters will want to know what you have been doing to prepare for your transition.  However, instead of asking this directly, they may ask you questions such as, “What’s the last book you read?”  “Tell me about an interesting business article you read?  What did you learn?” 

A Cameron-Brooks Alumnus who attended the June 2010 Conference as a recruiter for his company, reminded me of this.  He and I discussed a couple of JMO candidates who did not meet his expectations.  He said to me, “Joel, when you recruited me in 2003, you only had to tell me to do something once and I did it.  I read and underlined PCS to Corporate America (Cameron) 3 times.  I formed a preparation study group with 3 other Cameron-Brooks JMO candidates.  I read all 10 of the required books.  I called and e-mailed Cameron-Brooks Alumni to learn more about business careers and how to be successful in the transition.  I didn’t wing it.” 

This Cameron-Brooks Alumnus works for one of the fastest growing and most innovative medical device companies today.  This company is the leader in robotic surgery.  He said his company is growing so quickly that they need leaders who have the capacity to learn the technology and can grow with the company.  He went on to explain that he ruled out several candidates who could not communicate specifically what they did to prepare for the Conference and transition.  He said, “If the candidates demonstrate intelligence, capacity and willingness to learn, my company and I will teach them.  But, when they can’t describe the specific books they read, or they did not read the sales book Integrity Selling for the 21st Century (Willingham) from the C-B Reading List, and it’s apparent they have not invested the time to prepare to answer interview questions, I can only assume they do not have the desire to learn and I can’t assume I can teach them robotic surgical sales.  It is disappointing because they have great resumes.”

In this blog and on our Facebook and YouTube pages we have been emphasizing the point that the economy is good at the Cameron-Brooks Conference.  We have numerous companies, positions and openings.  The Cameron-Brooks candidates at the January through June Conferences this year have averaged between 11 and 13 interviews.  This is up from approximately 8 to 9 in 2009.  However, the companies are selective, and though military officers are busy today, the Alumnus’ comments above demonstrate they will not make exceptions.  If you want to step out of the military and get on board with an industry leader, in a position with future promotional opportunities that is well matched for your background, you need to earn it through preparation.  Diligent preparation demonstrates your intelligence, your ability to learn and the company’s opportunity to develop you, and your potential to be promoted to positions of increased responsibility.

What can you do now to apply this lesson?  The same things we have been advocating in this blog for the last 15 months. 

1)      Read.  (A few recommendations:  PCS to Corporate America (Cameron), Good to Great (Collins), Integrity Selling for the 21st Century (Willingham), Financial Intelligence (Berman and Knight).

2)      Subscribe to and read FORTUNE Magazine and read the daily business section of the newspaper/online news service.

3)      Study business concepts such as Six Sigma, Lean, Project Management, Strategic Selling, Total Productive Maintenance, etc.

4)      If you are a Cameron-Brooks candidate preparing for a Conference, talk to Cameron-Brooks Alumni to learn more about their business experience.  To get names and contact information of Cameron-Brooks Alumni, please e-mail or call your Recruiting Team Leader.

5)      Prepare and practice answers to commonly asked interview questions well in advance of your first interview.  Too many candidates develop answers in their head but never write them down or practice them out loud.  Fact – an answer always sounds better in your head than it will out loud.

 Be proactive.  What will you do to prepare for your transition?

 Joel Junker